Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Who Are Those Guys? The Second Presidential Debate in America's 2008 Race

Last night’s debate between America’s two leading presidential candidates was remarkable for the lack of insight it gave us into the characters and the hearts of the two men from whom we must chose our next President of the United States. What is amazing about this is that these two men have two of the most compelling life stories of any candidates for president in many years ...

Barak Obama is the child of a free-spirited American woman and a student from Kenya who abandoned his child to return to his native country. If Obama were to tell us that he went through a rebellious period in which he tried to take pride in his color by criticizing the racial challenges of America we might better understand the so-called “radical” friends he has made and kept during his political career. During last night’s debate he did mention that his mother sometimes had to rely on food stamps to care for him and that he was eventually left to be raised by his maternal grandmother. What insights did he gain from this? Is this why he chose to enter politics as a Democrat? We want to learn more about you, Senator Obama and learn how this remarkable ascent from abandoned child to presidential candidate came about. What motivates you now besides ambition?

And what more amazing story arc is there than that of John McCain, the Naval Academy cadet who rebelled against his admiral father and grandfather and collected so many demerits he graduated near the bottom of his class. Who then moved from Top Troublemaker to Top Gun and became a hotshot Navy pilot who led a squadron during the Vietnam War and was shot down. (“I did a good job of intercepting that surface-to-air missile with my plane,” he’s been known to joke with reporters.) In captivity he had his body so broken he now walks stiffly and cannot raise his arms above his shoulders without pain. He learned what it was like to rely on comrades he could only hear on the prison grapevine, a system of tin cups tapped on the walls of the cells. McCain has only referred to this part of his story obliquely during the debates, as if discussing it with the American people would be the violation of some kind of code of honor. It would not. We want to learn more about you, Senator McCain, and learn how those five years as a prisoner-of-war changed your life and led you into the service of your nation.

Ultimately, the debates have provided us no insights that I can find into the characters of these two candidates, and thus, I doubt the debates themselves will impact the outcome of the election. Shallow promises about what each will “give” us seem all the more vapid as America and the world move into a challenging economic slowdown. Give us an idea about the way your mind works on these issues, gentlemen, or you may find voters checking the box marked “other” on election day.

Meanwhile, one of my readers in India has reminded me that Republican Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin is the most lively, interesting creature in this race and he’s right: so I’ll be blogging about her soon. You betcha.



To Ms. Robin Chapman

I have heard the discussion. What interested me was their almost identical views on Pakistan, though they have used crafty language for expressing their views, riding on the election horses.

Naval Langa

Bob Liddle said...

Just a smig on Portland OR news market, please come back and rescue us from Tracy Berry's collagen injected lips. I'm sorry, I typically do not focus on such surface attributes but I cannot get passed the look of two pieces of liver smacking together talking about foreign policy exchanges. We need you back Robin!!

Anyway, about the debate, I thought that for once there would be an election where I could get excited about my two choices. I lean left alittle because of a couple of issues but I have to say I was more excited about the Hillary/Obama wars than I am about the Obama/McCain "thing". I realized how much I love/hate Hillary. What an amazing person yet I dont want her to be president. I was hoping we could focus on actual issues but I do not really know where these guys stand. The pundits focus too much on appearance, body language and delivery instead of substance like issues. But maybe that is because there isnt much substance to report. McCain is scary. At the beginning of the debate it looked like he was ready to jump out of his skin and Obama was too calm and self assured and the whole terrorist as a buddy issue is creeping me out. Like I said I wish I had more substantive observations but the candidates and the pundits/reporters arent helping much at all. I was very underwhelmed.